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‘Clarkson’s Farm’ Piques Viewers’ Appreciation And Appetite For Good Old-Fashioned Agriculture

The result of Jeremy Clarkson’s endeavor is some of the most entertaining, informative, and profound television to come out in a long time. 

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Food production is a mystery for most people in the 21st century. Sure, they are better informed about nutrition, exercise, and the countless varieties of cuisine. But it may as well be magic when it comes to growing crops, raising livestock, or bringing food products to market. Humanity has long since moved away from the dirty grind of agriculture into the much cleaner realms of digital technology. Few people want to think about the continued need for farmers and the crucial work they do. 

However, TV host and England’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” Jeremy Clarkson proves in his new series, “Clarkson’s Farm,” this is a huge mistake. Clarkson runs a 1,000-acre farm in Oxfordshire, and the series documents his journey to reconnect modern audiences to the work of their ancestors. The result of this endeavor is some of the most entertaining, informative, and surprisingly profound television to come out in a long time. 

In its first season, Clarkson’s idea seems like a novelty more than anything else. Accustomed to the world of media and big cities, he is utterly ignorant about all things related to farming. Yet Clarkson takes on several projects with great aplomb, only to find himself repeatedly humbled by the experience. Fortunately, he is helped by his expert farmhand Kaleb Cooper, and business management wizard Charlie Ireland, and the three create “Diddly Squat Farm,” aptly named given the shenanigans and mishaps the reality show depicts.

Each episode demonstrates just how difficult farm work is. Besides contending with bad weather, farmers have to deal with fluctuating prices (made even more volatile by globalized markets), pestilence, hostile local governments, and endless regulations. Despite feeding people and beautifying the countryside, farmers are routinely neglected and marginalized in a multitude of different ways. By shining a light on at least some of these challenges, “Clarkson’s Farm” has inadvertently become a powerful voice for the farming industry

The show is much more than a glorified advertisement for the farming industry. Despite being a total dunce when it comes to agriculture, Clarkson is a savvy entertainer armed with dry British wit and a sense of the dramatic. Consequently, though the show may technically be “reality television,” each scene, episode, and season feature coherent storylines that build up to a climax. Moreover, Clarkson and his team come off more like full-fledged characters with personalities than nameless participants in a celebrity’s vanity project. 

As such, each season has certain prevailing themes and conflicts that come to define it. In the first season, Clarkson learns the basics about land cultivation and raising farm animals such as sheep, cows, and chickens. The show isn’t without conflict, as Clarkson quickly discovers how bad weather and senseless Covid-19 restrictions can ruin all of his progress. In the second season, he attempts to expand the farm shop and even build a restaurant that serves exclusively local food, forcing him into a battle with the town’s council, which opposes him at every turn.   

The third season is perhaps the best thus far because the focus shifts from Clarkson, who busies himself with uncultivated land and raising woodland pigs, toward Kaleb Cooper, Clarkson’s trusty farmhand.

Up to this point, Cooper has mostly been the Sancho Panza to Clarkson’s Don Quixote. Cooper routinely cleans up Clarkson’s messes and is the perfect country boy foil for Clarkson’s oblivious farming escapades. In season three, Clarkson promotes Cooper to farm manager and entrusts him with carrying out the major operations of the business.

The interaction between Clarkson and Cooper is hilarious as the two constantly squabble with one another. Clarkson never fails to mock Cooper for being an uncultured simpleton, or the kinder insult of referring to Cooper as a “mere boy.” The hilarity stems from the fact that Cooper is 25 years old and has children, yet Clarkson insists on calling him a “fetus.” In return, Cooper makes fun of Clarkson’s atrocious farming skills and general incompetence.  

As in the previous two seasons, Clarkson is still opposed by the local authorities, and Ireland, the business manager, is valiantly filling out forms and filing appeals on his behalf. By now, Clarkson’s farm has become a popular tourist site, and there’s little the council can do about it.

“Clarkson’s Farm” has the platform to hopefully inspire others to pursue farming and consider returning to the countryside, reconnecting with reality, and doing honest work. Maybe in the next season, “Diddly Squat Farm” can finally turn a profit.   


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